UEFA asks FIFA and IFAB to review concussion protocols

After a number of high-profile incidents this season, UEFA wants the way the sport handles such injuries to be reassessed

UEFA has asked FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to review regulations regarding concussion.

The 2018-19 season saw high-profile examples of head injuries during games, including a worrying incident involving Jan Vertonghen.

Tottenham’s centre-back was caught in the head during the Champions League semi-final against Ajax and later had to be helped from the field of play, having initially attempted to play on.

Spurs later said tests showed Vertonghen did not sustain a concussion, but the incident sparked a debate over the way head injuries are handled in football.

Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina was also taken to hospital after a Serie A game against Udinese in March when he collapsed having attempted to play on after sustaining a head injury.

And UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin wants improvements to be made.

“The health of players is of utmost importance and I strongly believe that the current regulations on concussion need updating to protect both the players and the doctors and to ensure appropriate diagnosis can be made without disadvantaging the teams affected,” said Ceferin.

Current concussion protocol from FIFA suggests a six-day rest period after a player is diagnosed with a concussion, but allows team medical staff to make the final decision.

UEFA, whose executives met in Baku on Wednesday ahead of the Europa League final, believe FIFA should look at changes to the rules of the game, even around substitutions, saying such changes would “reduce the pressure on medical staff and give doctors more time to assess a potential concussion off the pitch, so that no concussed player returns to the field of play.”

In the 2018 World Cup Morroccan player Nordin Amrabat played only five days after a concussion. The winger should have missed six days per the FIFA guidelines, but took the field regardless.

That was just one of the incidents that led an independent study from the New York Hospital for Special Surgery to call concussion protocols ‘ineffective’ in two thirds of games at FIFA’s flagship tournament.

Last year Liverpool goalkeeper Lorius Karius made two mistakes in the Champions League final, handing the game to Real Madrid as a result. It was later revealed Karius played almost the whole game with a concussion.

 

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